Tommy Mezmercardo, these days known as "Trouble Tommy", has a little psych metal band from yesteryear that he maintains is in hiatus even though there's been no proper new release since the mid-Eighties. Until now.THE MEZMERIST has remained a deep cult legend best remembered by southern and coastal Californian metalheads and punkers. Of late, however, THE MEZMERIST has emerged from a well-kept secret whose four song EP, "The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty" has fetched hundreds of dollars by obscure band treasure hunters. Part of the allure to the myth behind THE MEZMERIST is its metallic shamanism that's part doom, part drone, part power metal, part punk and something else altogether unclassifiable. The main attraction to "The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty" is the fact it boasts none other than BLACK SABBATH legend Bill Ward on drums. Which is not to diminish the efforts of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Mezmercardo and bassist Roger Abercrombie. In fact, Bill Ward's contributions to THE MEZMERIST are understated, workman-like, even, compared to the scorching fret work of Mezmercardo. The latter's child-like falsettos are going to summon comparisons to KING DIAMOND, even if the two artists never met when "The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty" was recorded in 1983 and later released in '85. Originally issued as a 500 copy run after Mezmercardo was able to raise enough money with his uncle's help to kick start his own label, Destiny Records, Shadow Kingdom resurrects "The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty". To make the package more attractive, included is a never-before-released second EP, "Beg for Forgiveness, Pray for Your Life" plus a biographical DVD. In the early days, THE MEZMERIST (originally known as MEZMERIST AND THE PROPHETS OF DOOM) came up playing Cali keg parties in the same time and turf as VAN HALEN before moving on to beach clubs and old apartment complexes taken over by transients. As Mezmercardo tells the story, he hopped the fence to a private party where Bill Ward was playing drums and their meeting prompted the eventual collaboration leading to "The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty". Mezmercardo proudly admits the popping track music from classic Looney Tunes shorts had as much a hand in sculpting THE MEZMERIST's sometimes daft compositions on "The Innocent, the Forsaken, the Guilty". That, along with LED ZEPPELIN and SABBATH, plus it's probably safe to say BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, PINK FLOYD and HAWKWIND held influence as well. The swishing electro-psychedelics atop the whirring vacuum on "The Forsaken" is pretty out-there stuff, but nowhere near as weird as Mezmercardo's unnerving shrieks during "Dead Ones Cry No More" and "Arabian Nights". Frankly, his oohs and cackles at the beginning of "Dead Ones Cry No More" feel undeniably like KING DIAMOND, regardless of whether or not the two singers crossed paths. At least the plodding bass of Roger Abercrombie and the twittering guitar dashes topping the main melodic swirls counter the creepiness of Mezmercardo's vocals. "Arabian Nights" carries a hypnotic desert sway even with power metal lines and expansive rolls from Bill Ward hammering things down with more coarseness. The best song on this EP, "Victim of Environmental Change" rings like early JUDAS PRIEST to the point Mezmercardo ditches most of his shattering falsettos and follows Rob Halford's mid-ranges. In many ways, the new EP "Beg for Forgiveness, Pray for Your Life" is the better offering. Conceived on money given to THE MEZMERIST from then-new drummer JR's parents, it's mentioned that "Beg for Forgiveness, Pray for Your Life" was done to prove to the band's benefactors their son had really joined a band after running away from Colorado. The musicianship is considerably stronger, even if the scathing testimonial "No Family No Friends" sounds a hair cluttered in spots. "Kingdom of the Dead" and "No Family No Friends" yield subliminal traces of Eighties SoCal punk even while trying to come off like an early-age death metal band. The coolest song of the three on this EP is the third cut, "The Jam Song", which Tommy Mezmercardo conveys was done to burn 25 minutes of prepaid studio time so it wasn't wasted. He and bassist Steve Conrad go bonkers showing off their chops, which are plenty sharp here. "The Jam Song" is almost nine minutes long, ringing like early dawn days of THE CURE at first before toughening up and hitting improv lines and squealing rakes for the rest of the ride. Mezmercardo states that this lineup of THE MEZMERIST had only been together a few days when laying down "The Jam Song". Their congruity sounds as if they'd been together longer. This is a nifty artifact excavated for metal historians that has more value than just the short-term appearance of a drumming lord amongst their ranks. THE MEZMERIST may or may not come to bear more psychedelic shredding down the road since Tommy Mezmercardo states he's written hundreds of songs. For now, it's best to simply enjoy what's been unearthed and dial in to this trippy stuff with a copy of the most recent "Heavy Metal" magazine in your lap.
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